Haley Moss’s parents knew something was different about their little girl, but when Haley was three, doctors diagnosed her with autism. In that discussion doctors also said Haley would be lucky ever to have a minimum wage job or many friends when she was older.
The Moss family decided a diagnosis would not limit their little girl from becoming whatever she wanted to be. They enrolled her into early intervention programs, occupational and speech therapy, and pushed for mainstream education.
Autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning that no two people with the disorder are the same, but there are three main categories of autism.
Autistic Disorder – delays in language development and impaired social and communication skills. Often there are coping behaviors like rocking or arm flailing as well as hyper-focal areas of interest.
Asperger Syndrome – a milder form of autism in which many show social impairments, but language and intellectual abilities are often unaffected.
Pervasive Developmental Disorder: people who display some but not all the signs of autism
Adults with autism are severely under-employed compared to the rest of the general population. Some organizations help connect autistic adults with companies who hire autistic individuals, though those who get jobs are often over-qualified or can only get part-time work.
Haley Moss is the exception. She recently became the first woman with autism to join the Florida Barr Association and practice law.
An undergrad at the University of Florida, Haley earned a degree in psychology and criminology. When she was still in college, she also wrote two books about living with autism.
Now, as an advocate for neurodiversity, Haley hopes to change the way we talk about autism and to create more opportunities for people with autism in the workplace.
For resources to help with employment, visit The Spectrum Careers online or Autism Speaks.